Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Let Us Give Thanks

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble

Happy Thanksgiving Day: Today we celebrate with turkey, pumpkin pie, cranberries, and football games. Tomorrow we brave the cold winter weather and hit the malls for Black Friday, the biggest shopping day of the year. Tradition! Of course it is called Black Friday because that is the day merchants hope to go from red ink to black. I think it should be called Green Friday in honor of losing those greenbacks in your wallet but I guess St. Patrick already spoke for that color.

Where do we begin: The first Thanksgiving Day celebration occurred somewhere around the year 1620. According to historical records, participants at the first Thanksgiving Day dinner included 53 Pilgrims and 90 Indians. The main course was probably some sort of fowl, but likely not turkey, there were no pumpkin pies, as there were no baking ovens, although there could have been some boiled pumpkin. Cranberries had not yet been introduced in the colonies and since flour was scarce, there was no bread at the table. More likely the feast included duck, geese, venison, fish, lobster, clams, swan, berries, dried fruit, pumpkin, squash, and other vegetables. There were no Lions in Detroit or anywhere else in the New World so the TV stayed in the off position during that first Thanksgiving dinner.

Thanksgiving Day had been celebrated primarily as a religious observation to give thanks to God for the farmers’ bounty but now is considered a secular holiday to give thanks for all blessings including food, fun, and family. It has been regularly celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November since 1863 but did not become a federal holiday until 1941, ironically just eleven days before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Guess they were ticked at not being invited to dinner.

Days of fife and drum: During the Revolutionary War the Continental Congress assigned one or more Thanksgivings each year until the First National Proclamation of Thanksgiving was issued by the Continental Congress in 1777. That one was inspired by George Washington to give thanks for defeating the British at Fort Saratoga. In the midst of the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national Thanksgiving Day to be celebrated on the final Thursday of November, 1863. Every president who followed Lincoln continued the tradition of proclaiming the last Thursday in November as Thanksgiving Day, until 1939. That year President Theodore Roosevelt broke with tradition. Since November had five Thursdays in 1939 Roosevelt declared the fourth one to be Thanksgiving, and in 1940 and 1941, since November had four Thursdays, he proclaimed Thanksgiving to be the third November Thursday in each of those years. Roosevelt’s thinking was that since the country was in the midst of the Great Depression, having Thanksgiving one week earlier would give merchants a longer period to sell their Christmas wares, as selling Christmas products before Thanksgiving was deemed inappropriate. Many states followed Roosevelt’s proclamation but 22 did not and celebrated the last Thursday in November and referred to the earlier date as “Franksgiving.” Texas declared both weekends as government holidays. I suspect they were still confused about the Alamo. On October 26, 1941 both houses of Congress passed a bill making Thanksgiving Day the last Thursday in November. The Senate later amended the bill to make it the fourth Thursday. (And you wonder why they can’t agree on the Health Care Bill?)

Thanksgiving Traditions: From football to turkey, Thanksgiving traditions are weaved into the fabric of our society. It is considered to be the family holiday and children gather in the homes of their parents, not helping with the dishes and reminding their parents that spring tuition will soon be due. As far as the parents... well, I came across a job description for parents that I’d like to share:

Mom, Mommy, Mama, Ma
Dad, Daddy, Dada, Pa, Pop

Long term, team players needed, for challenging permanent work in an, often chaotic environment.

Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call.

Some overnight travel required, including trips to primitive camping sites on rainy weekends and endless sports tournaments in far away cities!

Travel expenses not reimbursed.

Extensive courier duties also required.

The rest of your life.

Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs $5.

Must be willing to bite tongue repeatedly.

Also, must possess the physical stamina of a pack mule and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat in case, this time, the screams from the backyard are not someone just crying wolf.

Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small gadget repair, mysteriously sluggish toilets and stuck zippers.

Must screen phone calls, maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects.

Must have ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks.

Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, an embarrassment the next.

Must handle assembly and product safety testing of a half million cheap, plastic toys, and battery operated devices.

Must always hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

Must assume final, complete accountability for the quality of the end product.

Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the facility.


Your job is to remain in the same position for years, without complaining, constantly retraining and updating your skills, so that those in your charge can ultimately surpass you

None required unfortunately.

On-the-job training offered on a continually exhausting basis.

Get this! You pay them!

Offering frequent raises and bonuses

A balloon payment is due when they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent.

When you die, you give them whatever is left.

The oddest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth, unconditional love, and free hugs and kisses for life if you play your cards right.


The above job description was written by Annette Clifford a contributor to Florida Today. Her web site is

A little blogging music Maestro: From every ice cream wagon in America, “Turkey in the Straw.”

Dr. Forgot

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